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June 25, 2018

Saints Peter and Febronia, Wonderworkers of Murom (+ 1228)

Sts. Peter and Febronia (Feast Day - June 25)

Prince Peter was the second son of the Murom prince Yuri Vladimirovich. He entered upon the throne of Murom in the year 1203. Several years before this Saint Peter had fallen ill with leprosy, from which no one was able to heal him. In a vision it was revealed to the prince that the daughter of a bee-keeper would be able to heal him: the pious maiden Febronia, a peasant of Laskova village in Ryazan gubernia. Saint Peter sent his emissaries to this village.

Febronia as a payment for treatment wished for Peter to marry her after the healing, and Peter promised to marry her. She therefore healed Peter, but he did not keep his word, as Febronia was a commoner and this was looked down upon, though he fell in love with her because of her piety, wisdom and virtue. But in the process of treatment Febronia deliberately did not heal one scab on the Peter's body, because of which the illness resumed. Febronia cured Peter again, and he was forced to marry her.

The holy couple loved each other through all their ordeals. When Peter inherited the throne from his brother, the haughty boyars did not wish to have a princess of common origin, and they urged that the prince leave her. Saint Peter refused, and so they banished the couple. They sailed off on two ships from their native city along the River Oka, and Saint Febronia continued to console Saint Peter. Soon the wrath of God fell upon the city of Murom, with riots ensuing due to the empty throne, and the people begged the prince to return together with Saint Febronia.

The holy couple was famous for their piety and charity. They died on the same day and hour, June 25, 1228, after having prayed to die together. Before this, however, they received the monastic tonsure with the names David and Euphrosyne in different monasteries. After their death the bodies of the Saints were put in the same grave. Due to their monastic tonsure however, this was seen as inappropriate and they were buried separately in different monasteries, but the next day they were joined together.

The holy spouses were buried in the Cathedral church of the city of Murom in honor of the Nativity of the Theotokos, erected over their relics in accordance with the vow of Tsar Ivan the Terrible in 1553. After the establishment of Soviet power, in 1921, the relics were taken to the local museum, where "with vulgar commentaries they are exhibited for public viewing." Since 1992, the relics are openly resting in the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Murom.

Saints Peter and Febronia showed themselves exemplary models of Christian marriage, and are considered the patron saints of newlyweds. In 2009 in many Russian cities there were established monuments to Peter and Febronia. The purpose of the monuments is the creation of a positive image of family values, loyal and chaste relationships, love and devotion in marriage, and the birth and upbringing of children in the spirit of love for the Motherland.

Peter and Febronia were canonized at the Church Synod in 1547 as local saints. On December 25, 2012 the Holy Synod established another celebration for the Saints - on the Sunday before September 6 for the translation of their relics in 1992.